Reporters on the job

EMPATHY STRIKES: For her story on homelessness in Canada (page 1), the Monitor's Julie Finnin Day spent a long morning in Toronto's Tent City, talking to people and warming her hands over their fires. "I was keenly aware that they saw me as a wealthy professional who could never truly understand their day-to-day struggles.

"But I got a taste of their frustrations when I returned to my car. The battery was dead. Then, I noticed that all the pictures I'd just taken with my digital camera were too low in resolution to print, and I started getting call-backs on my cellphone in the middle of it all. I sat there shivering in my dead car as residents of Tent City passed by, snickering at my misfortunes. Eventually, I was rescued by the Canadian Automobile Association."

JOURNALIST AND TEACHER: While reporting the story on Afghan youth projects (page 8), Lucian Kim sat in on an English class. Coincidentally, the day's lesson was newspaper headlines. "Headlines can be confusing to understand grammatically. They typically use the simple present for a past event; the "ing" form for present; and "to" plus a verb for future. The students were also confused. I went to the blackboard to help out. It reminded me of my days as an English teacher in the Czech Republic 10 years ago," he says.

HOW LONG CAN YOU WAIT? While working together on the whereabouts of Al Qaeda fugitives (page 1), the Monitor's Ilene Prusher and Philip Smucker were swapping tales about obstacles to interviews. "One Afghan intelligence official always cuts our interview short for afternoon prayer. And right on cue, a group came in to pray," says Ilene. That's nothing, Phil says. "I had just sat down with the national security chief on his office couch, when British officers came in. They dragged him off to formalize plans for a British-Afghan soccer match. I ate cashews and drank tea in his office for seven hours," he says. He finally got the interview the next morning.

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT

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